Why the asbestos in makeup problem is hard to avoid

Suzanne Monaghan
March 24, 2019 - 4:00 am
File photo dated 06/01/16 of a shop sign for claire's in central London.

PA Images/via Sipa USA


Earlier this month the popular children's store Claire's recalled some makeup products because they tested positive for asbestos, a mineral linked to deadly cancers. But, many makeup products come with those risks since they contain talc, according to Michelle Whitmer, a medical writer for the Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

"It happens because asbestos tends to form geologically alongside talc. And when we mine talc, sometimes there is asbestos in there," Whitmer said. 

She says part of the problem is the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have the authority to recall cosmetics.

"There are no rules or regulations on purifying the talc to ensure that there's no asbestos remaining, particularly for cosmetic grade talc.  So, it ends up in there accidentally because we don't have enough regulations and oversight to ensure that it isn't there."

Whitmer suggests parents and consumers buy talc-free products and brands such as BareMinerals, Honest Beauty and Smashbox that don't use any talc in their beauty products.